My husband says I am a legal shoplifter. I regularly go into stores and come out with a bagful of stuff plus store credit worth more than the amount I paid. (How I do that is unimportant to this post, but I wrote a little about it here.) Saving as much as possible by combining coupons, sales, and rebates is a sort of game for me, and my small savings add up to thousands of dollars each year.
Yesterday I wrote about paying a ridiculously small amount of taxes, but today I will tell you about some of the times I have failed to be consistently honest in the small things. Coupons are both my strength and my downfall. Most of the time, the “legal shoplifting” I do really is completely legal and ethical, but at times I give in to the temptation to stretch or break the rules – for example, I have two coupons that say “one per customer,” so I give one to my husband to use, even though our purchases are on the same credit card, and I will pay the bill for both.
My husband laughs at my angst over these little acts of compromised integrity, especially at stores that have refused to take other coupons that their store policies say they should. He says using two coupons makes up for the times our coupons were wrongly refused, and that the stores don’t care about those small amounts, anyway. Yet, I believe that faithfulness in the small things matters.
Like my dollar-here, dollar-there saving methods, the little choices I make every day add up to something big – my character. I rarely face a “big” temptation (I have never been tempted to embezzle from my employer, for example), but those little temptations arise every day. I hope that when I learn to consistently do the right thing even when it doesn’t seem to matter, my habit of making right choices will make the big choices I do face easy to make. I want to be like the faithful servants in Matthew 25, who were entrusted with something big because they properly managed the little things.